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Weather protection, handling, room to move, safety and economy are all primary concerns for keen offshore anglers looking to invest in a new boat. How does this South Australian-made diesel workboat measure up? Rick Huckstepp finds out




One of the mainstay boats plying the commercial fishing industry in the south of this country comes out of the factory of Clayton Marine in South Australia.
The father of Clayton Peake was former boss of Skipper Craft, a boat synonymous with the commercial fishing sector. When he retired, Clayton Marine purchased Skipper Craft, but the orders for the boat we tested, the Clayton Gallant, dictated this boat is the one of choice for an increasing amount of serious recreational anglers as well as those still plying waters in the commercial trade.
This particular Gallant was in the final stages of preparation before going on display at the Adelaide Boat Show, after which it was to begin its career as a charter boat plying the waters off Whyalla, the snapper capital of Australia.
Gallant boats in various sizes are no strangers to the shallow, windswept and choppy waters of Southern Australia. They grace the trailers of serious professional snapper fishermen in both Spencer and St Vincent Gulf, both of those waters having some of the most precarious sea conditions. When there is gear to check, time and tide waits for no one, especially in that game.




The Gallant cabin and wheelhouse is mounted well forward to free up a huge cockpit with plenty of room to move around the gunwales. The hardtop and hardened glass windscreens provide ample shelter and room to move and inside, the cabin provides warmth for winter and will sleep two on the V-berth that covers a Porta-Potti head and some dry stowage area. The sidepockets around the wall of the cabin are absolutely enormous and protrude well out from the hull. I could imagine some custom-made tackle lockers being fixed in place here and perhaps rods hung underneath. The distance of the pockets from the flared walls of the cabin provides unpadded back support for those seated within. A high sill at the cabin entrance stops water intrusion off the cockpit deck and complies with 2C survey regulations, to which this particular boat was built.
A hatch at the forward end of the cabin gives access to the Stress Relief anchor retrieval system. This is an electric-mechanical type with a rope and chain drum of a large diameter, not often seen in other parts of Australia but quite common in South Australia, with full-time charter and professional fishermen. If required, access to a tangled anchor system is via the hatch in the roof of the cabin as no walkaround is provided to the bow.




The helm station is neat and comfortable with seating on a pair of Raeline swivel buckets that have no forward or rearward adjustment. The modules the seats are mounted on provide a neat area to stow a toolbox. Radios are mounted on an overhead console; the cabin doorway may be zipped closed with a vinyl flap and the passenger has a large grabrail in front of them to keep secure in rough conditions.
Both sides of the cabin liner have two-tier apertures for stowage of gear as well. Small skylights in the roof of the cabin are there to provide more ventilation than light, and atop this a radar scanner for the 72-mile Furuno NavNet radar/chartplotter/depthsounder system somewhat dwarfed the hardtop area.




As can be seen, the cockpit is vast and made for serious work and play. It has scuppers that comply with 2C survey, which will handle large volumes of water but it is the small amounts that sit around a deck that are annoying. Clayton has taken care of this with a ball-scupper system in the bottom of each main scupper box that takes the dribbles off the deck leaving it relatively dry.
The engine box on this boat had a rubber surface on the lid so tackle boxes can be left there and not slide around. It's spaced from the transom bulkhead so that anglers fighting fish can have all-round access to the gunwales. This was made possible by installing a Carden shaft extension installed between the 200hp Volvo Penta powerplant and the drive shaft assembly. This installation shifts the engine box 33in (0.825m) forward, which also gives better weight distribution to the hull allowing it for a faster, flatter hole-shot and low planing speed of just nine knots (17kmh) at 2000rpm.
Access to the Carden shaft is via a deck hatch above it and the engine box tilts forward to reveal a neat engine bay with access easily obtained for servicing of belts and filters. The soundproofing fitted is more than adequate as standard, and noise levels at all speeds were quite bearable.
Expansive sidepockets run the length of the cockpit with twin battery packs installed inside the transom bulkheads alongside the isolator switch assembly. On top a shallow hatch provided good stowage for knives and scalers and other tools of trade.
While the lip of the hardtop held a sturdy rocket launcher, there was no rodholders installed in the coamings. This is typical for southern waters snapper charter boats, which tend to install rail-mount rodholders for better positioning of the rod when over the snapper drop, and most of the rods are stowed in the rocket launchers when underway. The Gallant had sturdy rails running the length of the coamings either side, and over the transom a sturdy marlin board was installed across the full beam of the boat.




On the water this boat exhibits very good stability and a soft ride into oncoming chop. Minimal spray hit the screen until the wind was high enough across the forequarters, but all is dry within the helm station. The boat has a tight turning circle at speed, and the rig lays over hard - but safely - into corners without any aeration at the leg.
At 3800rpm the Gallant runs out to a brisk 30.5kt (58kmh). There would be times down south you could run at this speed all day, but on plenty of occasions the seas are just too rough and that's when you need a boat that can hold an efficient, comfortable cruise to cover the ground without having to ride the throttle. At 21kt (40kmh) with the tacho showing 1900rpm - delivering exceptional fuel economy - the Gallant will eat up all but the biggest of chop before they turn into insurmountable waves.
For keen anglers getting even more serious in their dedication to the sport, and perhaps get a good feed for the family, this boat has plenty going for it as a platform to explore the grounds far off the coast. Weather protection, big cockpit, stability and of course excellent fuel economy are all big plusses, and so is the solid build and reputation for quality. While not the cheapest boat around, and one that will need a big 4WD to tow any distance, if you're looking to make a long-term investment in a boat that you want to last and not break the bank with running costs, the Gallant is well worth consideration.
At present, the demand has been strong enough in South Australia and Western Australia to keep the builder's books filled with orders. But now that the word is spreading, it will only be a matter of time before the sleek lines of the Clayton Gallant are cutting through waters further afield.




* Big, strong and plenty of room
* Scope to customise the boat to the owners' tastes
* Weather protection and dry storage
* Good fuel economy




* Some potential owners might want a larger cabin for overnighting
* Initial purchase cost in the upper end of the market
* Will need a big 4WD to tow
* No walkaround to foredeck, though there is access via cabin hatch





Specifications: Clayton Gallant 7.4




Price as tested: $161,618 in survey
Options fitted: Semi-custom boat - everything but the fibreglass hull and cabin shell
Priced from: $39,980 hull only



Type: Moderate-vee monohull
Material: Fibreglass
Length Overall: 7.4m
Beam: 2.4m
Deadrise: 17.5°
Weight: 3000kg as tested




Rec/max HP: 300
Fuel: 200lt   
Water: Optional freshwater tank
Passengers: Six in 2C survey
People: Two adults




Make/model: Volvo AD41 DP
Type: Turbocharged after-cooled diesel 
Rated hp: 200 @ 3900rpm
Displacement: 3.6lt
Weight: 538kg
Leg type: DP-E Dup Prop with Carden Shaft
Gearbox ratio: 1.78:1
Prop: A-Series A-4's



Clayton Marine Pty Ltd,
PO Box 731,
Salisbury, SA, 5108
Phone: (08) 8280 8040 or email



Originally published in TrailerBoat 197

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